The latest emerging artist to hit our radar is SANDSCAPE. A duo made up of vocalist Eliza Shaddad and producer Dan Sonabend, they've drawn on everything from their different heritages to jazz to form a unique point of view throughout their music. Those backgrounds - Iraqi and Israeli - not only set the scene for meaningful music, but special meanings behind the music as well.
The London-based duo has just two singles - both originals - that put out that vision into the webosphere, with their latest, "Don't Say I Didn't Warn You" released just last week. The track follows their debut, "Artificial Rush," a single that for us was a first, alluring electronic listen full of intrigue. Fleeting, layered with movement and passion, "Artificial Rush" is an active listening experience for a more stationary indie elctronica track. Now, it gets even more depth to it as we premiere the single's music video. Directed by Michal Sulima, the visuals for "Artificial Rush" build upon the ominousness of the original audio and speak to London's special qualities.
We chatted with the duo on the video and their recent music, and in their answers found an understanding of their relationship as a duo as well.
EARMILK: How did you meet? And how did you get to this point?
Eliza: We met at Dan’s local in North London, about 4 years ago. I had a gig there and was battling with a PA…
Dan: I was there with my mate Hush, a brilliant sound engineer. We heard this voice, and basically fell a bit in love and tried to help.
Eliza: We chatted afterwards and soon after started getting together to make music. We had a lot of mad all night sessions, and then Hush moved to LA, and Dan and me decided to keep songwriting together. Since then, over the last couple of years, any free moment we’ve had we’ve squeezed in writing sessions. It’s been really liberating to work on music without any pressure of planning where it'll go or how it'll be consumed.
Dan: It leads you somewhere more authentic and experimental, or at least we’d like to think so.
Do you have a specific process you have fallen into when you make your music? Or is it different each time?
Dan: Hah! Completely different every time. We've had instrumentals that Eliza has written a melody over, and we've had songs that were just guitar and a vocal which I then start adding layers to. I try to explore different production avenues with this project and see how far we can take the songs, so I might add a beat or even re-harmonize a song after we already have a top line. Anything goes.
Tell us a bit about how your backgrounds influence your music.
Dan: I think to some extent, no artist can avoid having the soil where he grew up influencing what he creates. We’ve never tried to force any middle-eastern or African sounds into SANDSCAPE, but definitely, something about our connection brings out hints of that kind of sound.
Eliza: I think there’s a mysticism of sorts in the tracks which hints at it too.
Where did the name SANDSCAPE come from?
Eliza: From a similar place really. We wanted a name that would reflect the ambient nature of the music while having a hint of our ethnic backgrounds, something that felt warm, and open, and desert-like. The pun was a plus.
Artistic and musical influences?
Dan: If I had to choose only one band that influenced us the most it would probably be Portishead. The way Beth Gibbons' fragile vocals sit on top of their half-live-half-electronic production has been a big inspiration.
Something you're digging in your music library right now?
Eliza: I’m singularly obsessed with John Fruciante.
Dan: I think it's been such a great year for film scores and there's a few that are on my playlist. Johan Johannson's 'Arrival' is a brilliant score and a brilliant film and so is Mica Levi's score for Jackie. I’ve also just been to the LCO’s dress rehearsal for ‘There Will Be Blood’ tour, a slightly older score but definitely one of my favourites; Jonny Greenwood's work is great.